When I wrote my last post about the mice, I wanted to tell the rest of the story at the same time (or why our mouse family is especially significant) but I just didn’t have time. So here it is….
Last year was the year of the bunnies for us. It has not been uncommon over the 10 or so years that we’ve lived in this house to see wild rabbits running through our backyard or nibbling on our grass. This year, though, the bunnies were regulars who hung out in our yard daily. They were a family–Mom, Dad, and toddler (Jewel, Crystal, and Ruby)–of cute lean, brown bunnies–the kind that dash away as soon as you open the door to get a closer look.
Then one day, we looked out an saw a bright white, fluffy rabbit (Lucy). Not the typical wild variety. She started coming by our yard on a regular basis, too. She was soon joined by a chubby blotchy brown and black bunny (Rocky). Wow! What fun for the kids! By the end of the summer, the kids had adopted them as the “wild” family pets, and we really did get quite attached.
Sometime around the end of summer, we discovered that Rocky and Lucy were domesticated rabbits whose owners believe that rabbits should run free. So they would put out food in their backyard and otherwise let the bunnies roam where they wanted. We had a problem with this–our neighborhood is not really friendly to that kind of a situation. This was proved on the second day of school when Kiwi saw Rocky in the street–hit by a car. The kids were devastated!
Several weeks after Rocky’s death, I found Lucy lying on our front steps. This was a pretty normal sight, but what wasn’t normal was the fact that she made no effort to get away from us when we approached her. Finally, she got up to attempt to leave. It broke my heart because she was hurt. Something was wrong with her hind legs, and she could only drag herself. Lucy dragged herself underneath our neighbors car and was still there in the evening when PB came home from work.
PB decided to bring Lucy inside that night to keep her safe from other wild animals (we also have a raccoon or two). He put her in clear bin in our kitchen. We fed her bunny food and then discussed our dilemma. What should we do about the neglectful owners? It was troubling….
I got up in the early morning to get Apple a sippy cup, and peeked in on Lucy. Everything seemed fine. An hour later, I went back down to the kitchen and immediately noticed something different…..It was a mess! And among the mess, I saw two lifeless pink bunnies. So….she wasn’t hurt. She was in labor.
I called PB down, and upon further investigation found six MORE babies (these ones were alive). I’m sure you can imagine the excitement that ensued as the kids woke up that morning and discovered newborn baby bunnies in the kitchen! It was an exciting day. We borrowed a cage and rabbit food from a neighbor, bought timothy hay and a water bottle, and set them up on our back porch (the kitchen got stinky pretty fast!).
We learned a lot in the next week. Domesticated rabbits are terrible mothers, especially first time moms. They don’t have a natural mothering instinct. Lucy didn’t take care of her babies, and instead would kick them out of the nest. There’s not a good or easy substitute for mama rabbit milk. In other words, there was nothing we could do as humans to help the babies. And you know the thing about “breeding like rabbits”? Well, rabbits have good sized liters and can conceive again right away….but their mortality rate stinks. I had the emotionally draining job of cleaning out the cage and disposing of the baby bunnies when they died. None of them made it to their week birthday. Sad. It was a tough week for me.
The cool thing that came out of our week with Lucy was that she was so friendly to us after that. She would let us approach her, feed her, and pet her when she was in our yard.
So now that we’ve had 5 baby mice born in our house in addition to the 8 bunnies, I’m starting to wonder if there’s some strange thing going on here…..Apple is two, and since we’ve lived here, I’ve had a baby every two years. Maybe the house was missing babies and so it provided us with a few births. I’m totally kidding.
This will definitely be a year to remember.
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